March 18, 2022

CMS Website Design: Should I Choose a Pre-designed Template?

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Your guide to choosing the right solution for your CMS website

Whenever the time comes round to create or refresh your CMS website, many weigh up the option for a custom CMS website design against pre-designed templates. Below we guide you through the advantages and disadvantages of both, to help you with your decision.

Custom CMS Website Design

Google’s best friend

Making your website SEO friendly means that Google and other search engines can crawl each page on the website efficiently; you want this because you want Google to deliver your target audience with your relevant content. Custom websites tend to rank higher because you can control where your keywords go, define meta tags and optimise the layout.

Since billions of users search for their queries every day, under 5% actually look beyond the first page, so it is important to develop your website with SEO in mind.

It’s good to be different

If you have competitors you’ll want to stand out, especially in this highly saturated market online right now and if a lot of your industry use CMS websites. Would a previously used template do that? We don’t think so. You’ll want to apply the same mindset you have towards how your brand adds value to your customers through your USP, not TSPs (templated selling points).

Leave room to grow

A template can be very restrictive, especially if you have aspirations to grow your business; your website will need to adapt with you. The extra features that come with most template sites can slow your site down, causing users to divert away from a frustrating user experience. As your visitor numbers increase, you’ll only notice the strains to your website more and more. 

Fit your brand

You didn’t choose your branding from a set of predefined elements, so your website should be no different. If brand positioning is one of your objectives for your new website, a custom design will achieve this. Templates do not allow the level of personalisation needed to reflect your unique personality, values, and identity. For most, your website is the first solid touch point for customers and where the storytelling begins. Don’t start from a page out of someone else’s book. 

I won’t be able to make changes myself

Many choose template DIY websites because they are easy to manage and edit; a custom website shouldn’t be any different. In fact, most have a small learning curve and after a day or two, you can edit far more. We are a Webflow expert partner, and one of the reasons for using them is how easy the content management system is to use (no coding knowledge required). 

A Template Design

Save time and money

Unlike a custom design, because the majority of the design has already been created, you’ll save yourself a lot of development time, and also cost if you’re hiring someone externally. It is far more likely that you will easily manage and maintain the site yourself. If you’re working towards a deadline, the template provides a much shorter time frame, eliminating any bugs or mistakes that might appear from a rushed build.

A shorter learning curve

Although most custom CMS builds are easy to learn for non-technical users, templates are designed for all users and are much friendlier to beginners starting out. The restrictive nature means there are less features and tools to learn, making editing content and adding pages something you can do on your coffee break from day one.

The perfect testing playground

The type of CMS solution will also depend on the stage you’re at. If you have validated your idea, achieved your product/market fit and want to establish yourself as a more mature brand, a custom design will support this. However, if you are wanting to test your idea, a template is definitely the way to go. You’ll want to focus as much time, money and effort into that idea; less so on the website build. 

Are you team template or team custom?

The decision between choosing a custom design for your CMS solution or a pre-design template comes down to what stage you’re at, your time and budget constraints, and if brand positioning is an important objective for your new website. 

Here at Fortnight, we have recently become a Webflow expert partner and believe it is the ideal web hosting solution, delivering the perfect blend of customisation and usability from a non-technical perspective. We offer both custom designs and template design builds, but would always recommend a custom design for the benefits above (and to show off our creativity).

If you’re thinking about a new website or refresh, we’d love to hear about it! Contact us now, or view our previous work.

CMS Website Design: Should I Choose a Pre-designed Template?